WW1 history around the corner

Once again I was searching through old digitized Swedish-American Newspapers, and stumbled over a small note, who said, in my perspective, interesting facts. I saw the name of my village, where I live today.

The small text informed me about a father who was grieved his lost son, who was a soldier in the 122nd Bayerische Infanterie Regemente, and the father had just received info that his son fell, but it didnt tell any date. You find the small note below, and beneath it I have translated it into english.

I made two pictures, one with the text and one with the text but also including the date from The newspaper, The Texas Post from early January, and I assume his son fell in 1917.

Jönköping. Swedish Iron Cross Knight dead in the war. The 2nd Lt in the 122nd Bavarian Infantry Regiment, Iron Cross Knight B. J. W. Swahn, has according to a message to his father in Smålands Taberg died in a war hospital in Schwaben, 29 years old.”

It is always interesting to find this information in a American Newspaper from Texas, from over 100 years ago. I understand now, from reading a lot of those newspapers, that it was important for the Swedish Emigrants in North America to read about the faith of their countrymen.

I assume that B J W Swahn died in 1917, and he should then be born around 1888. The thing I know is that his father probably also has the surname “Swahn”.

I first search in the archive from Volksbund Deutsche Kriegsgräberfürsorge, and I search for “Swahn”. You can see the result below.

It must be him. 1888 and Jönköping is correct, and also that he died in 1917 is also correct. Now I have date of birth.

I go into the Swedish Archive portal “Arkiv Digital” and search for Wilhelm Swahn, born September 24, 1888. And there he is, with all his family. B. J. W. Swahn becomes Bror Jonas Wilhelm Svahn, born in Jönköping, Sweden, and raised by his mother, with the quite unusual name Aqvilina, Sandberg as Surname, and his father Johan Wilhelm Swahn.

Bror´s father is a military, from Jönköping Regiment, I 12, which later on together with Kalmar Regiment becomes Norra Smålands Regemente I 12, in 1927, my regiment, where I started my career.

Bror does his conscript, probably at the same regiment as his father, but later on becomes a sergeant, today the level of OR7, up North in Sweden, at Norrlands Artillery Regiment, A4, before he goes down south again.

On the map below you can see some of the places where he lived with his family, after has been born in Jönköping city.

You will find, underlined in red, some places that are mentioned in the church books, and also the small place called Sjötorp, with a map from just North-West of the word Taberg on the larger map, and how a house, that is called Sjötorp today, looks like. It can be in the same plot. I live in the area called “Gärdet” on the map.

I don’t find a lot of info from Bror and his history in the German Imperial Army, but I have some facts that says that he went to North America in 1910, but I haven’t found any information about when he went back again. I assume he did.

I have tried to find his regiment, to which Division he belonged, and it is highly likely that he belonged to the 122nd Infantry Regiment from Wurttemberg, in the 243 Infantry Division. There is a small text below from that regiment history, from 1917.

Bror Jonas Wilhelm Swahn is buried in Germany, in Schwaben region, in the cemetery of Kriegsgräberstätte in Schwäbisch Gmünd-Leonhardsfriedhof. May Bror rest in peace, I will remember him.

I will in february 2022 have a lecture in my local community, and I will of course mention him and, so far, three other individuals from the parish, who fought in the Great War, on the American side, but those other three survived. Maybe they met eachother? Who will ever know …

In this case I will not register Bror in my database, as he is not within the criterias, but nevertheless I will think about him and his family when I walk around in the area next time. Imagine, such interesting history, just around the corner.

A bit off the main topic – Swedes in the American Civil war.

It is quite easy, when searching about Swedes who fought and fell at the Western Front in The Great War, to also come across other facts in history. In this case I today came across some stories about Swedes who was involved in some fightings during the American Civil war.

It is earlier mentioned by the famous Swedish author, Lars Gyllenhaal, and his cowriter Lennart Westerberg, in their book about “Swedes in War” (Svenskar i Krig), that they assess that about 3500 Swedish born individuals who had emigrated from Sweden to the America fought for the union, and that about a couple of hundred Swedish born fought for the other side, the southern.

Earlier this evening, when searching for facts about another soldier, who fell at the Western Front, I came across some facts from another book, “Swedes in Illinois – historical notes” by the Swede John Ericson from New York.

A small story mention how a battery in the union, named and commanded by the Captain Silfversparre, who participated in the fightings around Shiloh, for a couple of days. Later on Captain Silfversparre left the unit for several reason, but there were no doubts that he did a great job commanding the battery.

The fight went on, and they fought nearby the cities of Corinth and Vicksburg, and later on Jackson, Mission Ridge and Lookout Mountains. In 1864 theyt also fought in Resacka, Kingston, Dallas, Altoona and Kenesaw Moutains.

In the fightings June 22nd 1864, around Atlanta, the battery with their new commander did a great job for the union troops. But they also lost a Swedish born sergeant named Peter S Wyman.

Peter was the commander of one of the units cannons, no 2, and they formed up in a half circle againts a five time larger unit, and therefor the commander ordered a retreat, but the commander of the battery, De Graas, and Peter, stayed by their weapon just to give the enemy their last loaded bullets, but Peter was not satisfied and reloaded one of the cannons, shot it at the enemy, spiked the gun and turned around to run back, but in that moment he was hit by three bullets and died on the spot.

If he just had lived for another day, he would have been promoted. The text says he is buried in an unmarked spot in the area where he fell. May he rest in peace.

Peter was born in Sweden , and it is stated in the text I found that he was born in 1836 in the parish of Ysanna, Blekinge, Sweden, but I assume it is the parish Ysane today.

It is also mentioned that his surname was Yman, and then logically became Wyman in the states, but I can’t, for the moment, find anyone called Yman in Sweden, and probably it was another name, and he took the surname Wyman when he arrived to the states, maybe after his home in Ysane?

I will look further to see if I can find the person behind the name Peter S Wyman, I will come back.

Source: History of the Swedes of Illinois.

Home to Sweden

As you know I am working with my research about Swedish born soldiers who fought and fell at the Western Front in The Great War, and are buried or commemorated at the Western Front as well. But in my research I also discover those Swedes who were brought home to Sweden. Those individuals will be put into my project, but will have a separate part in the database.

At the moment I am looking through the American archives, and so far, after a quite short time, I have so far found 9 Swedish born soldiers who fit to the above criteria. I will probably find more individuals that have been sent home to Sweden further on in my research.

Below you can find the casualty cards with the information about when they fell and when they were brought home to Sweden, instead of buried at the front, or sent back to relatives in the US.

But I have dicovered that it is very hard to find their final resting place in Sweden, as we don’t have an archive of all graves in Sweden. There are only some pages from people who voluntarily has put up some databases with names from different cemeteries in Sweden, and so far I have managed to find only one headstone and cemetery of the Swedes.

I received it from an person who contacted me through my site, and I will try to visit the place as soon as possible.

There is a risk that the headstones are or will be moved from their original place, to the outskirt of the cemetery, as they have to make room for those who is next in line to be buried.

I really hope that I will find the rest of the places, before they are gone, and also the places from those Swedes I probably will find further on. It would be a great honour to commemorate them in their own country.

May all of them rest in peace.